Bangladesh court jails opposition leader Zia

Khaleda Zia’s son named interim leader of Bangladesh opposition

"We'll go to the higher court", Khandker Mahbub Hossain, the leader of Khaleda's legal team, told reporters.

The court gave [BDNews24 report] Zia's son, Tarique Rahman, and four associates longer sentences of 10 years each and ordered them to pay a $2.5 million fine for their involvement in the embezzlement scheme.

Twenty three people were killed and Hasina narrowly escaped the assault while a Dhaka court almost wrapped up the trial proceedings against Rahman and several stalwarts of the then BNP government and ex-military intelligence officials.

Zia, leader of the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), was found guilty of stealing $252,000 from a trust created for an orphanage, a charge she had dismissed as politically motivated.

"While all political party leaders should warn their supporters against engaging in violence, it's crucial for the government security forces to act with restraint at all times".

Zia also faces 31 more cases in court, a lot of them politically charged and filed since 2009 by the ruling Awami League government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Zia's arch rival.

Zia is scheduled to run in parliamentary polls in December.

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BNP senior leader Ruhul Kabir Rizvi denounced the sentence, calling it "an attempt to eliminate the opponent".

The spokesperson said this in response to a question from a Bangladeshi journalist whether the United Nations secretary-general would send any special envoy to Bangladesh to resolve the political crisis, following the verdict.

Her son Rahman, who lives in exile in London, was convicted in a case of money laundering in 2016.

Bangladesh law says anyone imprisoned for more than two years can not run for office for the next five years, but Law Minister Anisul Huq said the final decision rests with the courts. Her party called for nationwide demonstrations Friday to protest the verdict. The lawyers, who accompanied the former PM to the jail gate, also conveyed the BNP chief's message to her followers.

The ex-premier on November 30, 2014 lost her last ditch effort to evade the graft trial as the Supreme Court turned down her second "leave to appeal" petition challenging her indictment and asked her to face trial in the lower court.

Earlier violent clashes broke out between security forces and pro-opposition protesters in the capital Dhaka.

Television broadcast images of motorcycles set on fire.

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